Introducing new, younger personalities into an established Real Housewives cast is a delicate thing: You want them to add a fresh jolt to the dynamic (see: Leah McSweeney’s explosive first season on RHONY) without malfunctioning the whole machine (see: Leah McSweeney’s lackluster second season on RHONY). Thankfully for the Jersey women, our season 13 newcomers are falling firmly into the former category.
Tuesday night’s episode kicks off with RHONJ rookie Danielle Cabral at her most extra: namely, tapping into her inner Dance Mom as she helps her 7-year-old daughter Valentina practice the choreographed entrance for her blowout Barbie-themed birthday party. (“More dramatic, more dramatic…do the 5, 6, 7, 8…don’t kill her but hit the stunt!” She’s giving Regina George’s mom in Mean Girls vibes and we’re not mad about it.) Danielle has invited all of the Garden State gals to the party, but after the “nose job” face-off between Jennifer Aydin and Rachel Fuda at Teresa’s “Love Bubble” housewarming last episode, she’s worried about her castmates ruining the festivities with their drama. “It will not happen at my daughter’s party or I will go off,” she promises.
Speaking of daughters, most of Teresa and Melissa’s airtime this week consisted of them roping their children into the neverending Gorga-Guidice saga instead of letting them simply enjoy some major life moments, like helping their mom pick out a wedding dress or learning how to drive for the first time. “I don’t ever want you to hold a grudge against Zia Teresa,” Melissa tells her 16-year-old, Antonia. “We don’t get involved in your guys’ stuff. We never talk about it,” she responds. Smart kid. Keep it that way.
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Melissa does pause the family drama long enough for a lunch with Jennifer Aydin, as the duo officially makes peace over watermelon martinis. “It’s been almost five years! How long does it take to get lunch with someone?” Jen A. asks. “It’s a long time not to like someone,” Melissa jokes. With an upcoming get-together at Jenn Fessler’s on the calendar, they rehash the call Jennifer Aydin made to her about Margaret. “With Margaret, she always has an issue with me,” Aydin says. “I think that she doesn’t give you a pass as much as she gives everyone else,” Melissa offers. Jen A. brings up the intel that Marge’s former friend Laura gave her: “She was saying that Margaret encourages you to leave Joe,” she says, but Melissa’s not buying it. “She never encouraged that,” adding “that’s a little bit of a reach.”
With Marge fresh on the mind, it isn’t surprising that Jen Aydin is preheated for Jennifer’s gingham-festooned, Southern-inspired lunch. “You can’t fight when you’ve got chicken and waffles,” Fessler reasons, but honey, you were at the mozzarella-making party. These women love nothing more than verbally ruining a themed shindig.
And ruin things they do. “You’re trash-talking me to Jenn Fessler, you talked shit about me to Melissa…that’s why you don’t have any genuine relationships,” Margaret jabs at Jen Aydin, who heartily defends herself. But things quickly escalate into a diva-on-diva dogfight. “You don’t have any fucking friends, you stupid asshole,” Marge yells, sunhat quivering with rage. “I have a family, which is something you’ll never fucking know what it’s like,” Jen Aydin erupts. “You don’t know what I fucking have: a fucking good marriage, you stupid fucking bitch!”
It’s par for the course for longtime Real Housewives of New Jersey viewers (no tables nor drinks are thrown, so it’s actually fairly tame in comparison to some of the franchise’s more savage smackdowns), but it proves to be astonishing for RHONJ’s three new additions. “I’m just, like, not understanding how it gets to this point?” Rachel asks, perplexed, in a confessional. “I’m listening to two women rip each other’s assholes open.” Her fellow new arrival Danielle concurs: “I ain’t telling you bitches nothing because I’ll be damned if I let them talk to me like this,” she says of the squabble.
Somewhere in between Margaret calling Jen A. “a disheveled little drug addict” (“Marijuana is not drugs!”) and Aydin snapping about Marge’s “fucking Driving Miss Daisy hat,” party host Jenn Fessler roars herself to her feet to admonish the brawling women about their behavior and volume. “This is not Teresa’s house, I have neighbors!” (“Yeah, I’m on six acres,” Teresa unhelpfully but hilariously adds.) “You guys are embarrassing me. Margaret, sit your ass down. Jennifer, I have to ask you to leave. It’s enough; I can’t do this for another second!” Aydin leaves with Teresa in tow, and a line has seemingly been drawn between the old-schoolers and the new kids on the block.
“When you do low-blows about people’s marriages and kids, I don’t like that,” Danielle tells Rachel later at Valentina’s all-pink birthday bonanza. “It was hard to watch,” Rach agrees. And when Jen Aydin and Teresa sidle up to the newcomers to once again try to stir the pot (“I don’t trust her as far as I can throw her and I don’t think you guys should either,” Aydin says of Margaret), Rachel shuts it down real quick. “She hasn’t done anything like that to me,” she says firmly. “I have a mind of my own. I’m trying to get to know you guys for who you are.”
And we, graciously, are getting to know the new cast for who they are—and we’re liking what we’re seeing.
- In this week’s episode of Olivia Aydin Is Iconic, the precocious youngster revealed her future job goals. “A therapist…and the kind of therapy I want to do is love, couples. They’ve got problems, and I want to fix them.” Andy Cohen, give it a full-season pick-up, STAT.
- Another quick-talking tyke is Danielle’s young son Dominic, who says of Valentina’s “two boyfriends”: “They’re way out of your league.”
- We get a scene of Teresa trying on wedding gowns (her nuptials are still five weeks away in TV time), during which we find out that her first wedding was Shakespeare In Love-themed “because that movie was out that year.”
- Keeping track of the cast’s, well, casts, Jennifer Aydin has upgraded her boot to a “bootie,” and Margaret is now sporting a wrist cast and requires surgery. “I don’t like going under the knife except to come out looking a lot more glamorous,” she grumbles.
- Melissa Gorga utters the phrase “family is everything” more than Vin Diesel does in the entire Fast & Furious franchise, which is really saying something.